Every year we all shell out exorbitant amounts of money for unnecessary items like cookie dough, candy and giftwrap in an attempt to support our local schools. But most of that money ends up going to the fundraising company instead! One parent, Jeannie Williams, had had enough. She decided to turn this grievance into a business opportunity and utilize her organic farming skills all at the same time. Soon, Gardens 4 Educations, an ingenious fundraising program that both fosters healthy habits and results in more profits for schools, was born.
Jeannie plans to continue working with SCORE as Gardens 4 Education continues to grow. She say, “We have come a long way but there’s still a long way to go. It gives me confidence to know that I have a resource where I can get help from people who have been there.”
The Gardens 4 Education fundraiser started as an easy to use garden kit in a disposable six-pack carrier. Jeannie first tested out the practical use of her concept in her daughter’s classroom during the Spring of 2011. The fundraiser was a hit. That Fall, she sought the help of SCORE and her mentor, Harley Roberts, helped her work through many of the questions and issues she faced as a new business owner. Harley connected Jeannie with ABLE Industries, an assembler and distributor committed to improving the lives of people with disabilities by creating opportunities to maximize their independence.
The garden kits have now evolved into a four-pack of large plants in a reusable garden tote with advertising space sold on the side. This advertising opportunity increases even further the significant profit potential of the fundraiser for schools; while most fundraising programs offer 20-40% of profits to the school, Gardens 4 Education offers 50% plus the advertising potential.
In 2013 the Gardens 4 Education fundraiser will be available to all schools in the Kings and Tulare counties of California.
Jeannie reflects on her mentor’s influence saying, “I feel very fortunate to have Harley Roberts as my SCORE mentor. He has helped me realize opportunities that I didn’t even know existed. His suggestion to contract assembly and shipping through Able Industries ultimately changed the direction of my distribution model to one that can grow and reach more schools. I don’t think he realizes just how instrumental he has been in helping me develop Gardens 4 Education into a viable business.”